Back Seat Riders – Triumph T140

Back Seat Riders Triumph T140

Throwing my mind back to around about August or September 1983, I’m trying to recall a hilarious chain of events involving, as they sometimes do, the law. I was living in Bristol, in the same road as Horefield Nick which made it handy when visiting mates who had also fallen foul of the cops and not got away with it. It was a sunny afternoon and it was the weekend, (not that that made any difference to me at that time as I was on the dole) and phone rings, “hello.” I say with my intelligent voice. ‘Hey Roop, come to a party, it’s in Taunton, late night bar, meet you at the Martlet in Langford Budville at 7, I’ll tell the usual motley crew, see ya!” Click burrrrrrrr. “Yeah, cool, right, laters, bye.” I was on an intellectual roll by then. Problem number 1 – my beloved Triumph T140v was in pieces in the living room, bedroom, hall way, bathroom and kitchen. ‘Bugger it!’ I shouted while trying to think quickly of a plan. Solution – “I’ll borrow a bike” I mumbled to myself. “Even easier, I’ll nick me birds bike!“ She’s at work and wouldn’t mind too much, especially as I had just finished servicing it which means a 80 mile test run wasn’t unheard of – was it? Now, a month earlier and thanks to the death of an aunt or granny or someone, she inherited some cash and like most career women with cash she did the most natural thing – she went shopping. Not for clothes or home improvements, nope, but a Triumph T120 hard tailed chopper that belonged to a good friend who built it for his wife and then decided to give her his while he fully restored a 1943 Indian. The bike was clean, it was noisy, it looked amazing and was bloody uncomfortable – in short it was the dog’s doodahs.

Job done. I was gone. (One didn’t worry about tooth brushes and spare clothes in those days). I called my parents who lived in Milverton, Devon (I think) to expect me to dinner, “make it steak” I demanded and that I was off out to the pub and then a party that evening. I always considered my self a top loving devoted son. Journey done, steak eaten, lots of ‘see ya laters’ and I was off on me chopper to the boozer – what a life! What seemed like a few hours in the pub and a few beers later a bunch of us rode off to Taunton.

Must have been about midnight. Feeling a little wobbly, tired and erm, drunk, I decided to head off to my parents’ for a great nights sleep. “Rain, bloody great,“ I grumbled as I kicked the low rider into life. “Bloody stinking bloody rain, bloody sodden country.“ hic burp ‘Dammit! – No Bloody Lights!” The rain must have been brutal or a wire broke, either ways I was not in the mood to start stripping off bits to find the problem. There’s only one option – auto pilot my way home! I knew the roads, the bends, the bumps and the pot holes like the back of my hand so I dumped the bike in first and stalled it. “Second time lucky eh“ I said to myself as I put my body weight into igniting the beast, and “off we go”.

At some point in the centre of town while waiting for the lights to go green I became aware of a dark looming figure standing over me “Would you mind turning off your engine and removing your helmet sir?“ “Yessshhhh offisher, no problemsh“, I replied with grace and dignity. After I explained my tale of woe about the lighting circuit and my attempt to limp home with no lights the kind policeman was a little sympathetic but not altogether forgiving. “I’m going to have to ask you to take a breathalyser test sir”, but I need to call up a squad car as I don’t carry the kit”.

That was it, I was done for and my own fault too. In those days one could be let off if you were extremely polite, humble and apologetic. Obviously, this wasn’t one of those times. What must have been about 10 minutes but felt like a few heart stopping hours, polite conversation and multiple calls to his colleagues asking for the test kit team all was pretty much the same. I was wet, it was very late and I had a very tall Copper hell bent on justice when all of the sudden, he jumped on the back of my bike and ordered me to “take me to the other side of town – and don’t hang about!”

Before I knew it I was hurtling through the High Street on a cut down low rider with a Rozzer on the back seat, in the rain and not wearing my helmet and totally piddled. He was holding my helmet between his legs and I suppose his helmet was acting as some kind of make shift crash hat, so that was alright then – I think. “Faster and turn left!” he barked – in a polite way. About 15 minutes later we pulled into a small Cul De Sac to witness a full blown house party that had turned into a full blown street fight. Typical West Country hospitality I thought as the officer jumped off the back of my bike, flung my helmet at me and said, with a grin, ‘Off you go, ride safely, I’ll let my colleagues know so don’t worry about being stopped”. He thanked me profusely and was off for a good scrap.

“Lucky break” I said to myself out loud, “who the hell is going to believe this one”.

By Rupert Kemble


Posted on

February 21, 2023

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